I did it. I got my daughter through birthday party #5. Almost everything that can go wrong almost went wrong. But, thankfully, it didn't quite go wrong. Just almost wrong.
This year I felt brave enough to do a party in a space where you had to bring the food and the decoration. They provided the activity - gymnastics - and a cold generic meeting room. Of course, I could have stuck with the theme of cold generic meeting room for the party part, but my daughter didn't quite relate to the The Office themed party plates. She wanted pink ! Princesses!
I bargained her down to red, white and blue to match the only gymnastics party plates I could find. She was good with that and I went whole hog and bought matching cups, cake plates, tablecloths, forks, knives, spoons, table decorations, mylar red, white and blue star balloons and American flags and stars for the walls. I color photocopied gymnastics themed stamps from other countries to sprinkle on the tables along with party themed confetti.
It's my daughter's party and I'll try too hard if I want to.
Then came the food. I could have just done the pizza and chips and leftover Halloween candy (yay November birthday!) in bowls but that wouldn't be me. That would be a normal person like my sister. I went with the pizza and chips (Pirate Booty, Sun Chips, Cape Cod Sour Cream & Green Onion) but then decided to do a series of Mediterranean plates. I was going to do sliced tomato, mozzerella and basil but then I went to whole foods and they had these wonderful little bite sized mozzarella balls. And then there were the fresh grape tomatoes and the pitless Greek olives and the olive tapenade and the tomato tapenade and then different kinds of crackers, one with olive oil and rosemary. Then the fresh basil leaves, artichoke hearts, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, madeleines...it quickly snowballed. $900 later I was on my way home. Now I had to figure out how to present the food.
Leave it in the plastic containers? Never! This was a party for 5 year olds. I had to find my vintage 20th century modern plastic plates and bowls. And I did find them in a dusty old moving box. Nothing a little Dawn couldn't fix.
I plated the vegetables. I plated the tapenade, as it definitely had to be drained and oil+party clothes+rushed time frame= too real recipe for disaster. Even a blind fortune teller could see that spill coming. And then I made a conscious, agonizing decision to leave all the rest for the morning. Did I want to sleep past 4 a.m. or did I want to have fresh and moist mozzarella...actually, it wasn't a hard decision. Of course I wanted the fresh cheese.
I spent the next 3 hours gluing rhinestones (Swarovski) on my daughter's leotard. 2 a.m. I was ready for bed, but too tired to get off the stone floor downstairs.
Morning came (quickly) and I was nervous as heck. I dressed my daughter got her ready. She was all excited and happy. I got me ready. I was excited and nervous. I made sure the camera was ready. I packed everything in the car.
Then we were off to the party place. I gave one hour to getting there and one for setting up. I had printed my Google map out to make sure I was headed in the right direction even though I had been there a number of times. I panicked only once on the way over, one of the bridges was up. I was plotting the drive over the grassy median when it finally went down.
I found a good close parking spot, Hurray! The people at the place were really nice and helpful, Hurray! My helpers showed up on time and drama-free.
My mom brought the cake. The cake that Pen had picked out herself. Princesses!!!! My mom squashed it a little. Nothing some strategically placed candles couldn't hide.
The guy I date helped too. He brought the ice and the chicken McNuggets. Those two items were impossible for me to coordinate alone. You need the nuggets hot and the ice, cold. Of course, my sister forgot to bring her cooler, so we only had one. A lot of ice water spread slowly from beneath the tables where we hid those extra bags.
Note to self for next year. Either say "party starts promptly at 1" - underline it, star it, highlight it and put angels above it and devils below it - or write "party starts at 12" on the invitations. 45 minutes late to a 2- hour party is not fashionably late. It's terribly late. But the kids who did come on time had lots more one-on-one gymnastics time with the coaches. And my daughter had a great time. The kids who came late had a little gymnastics and a lot of Halloween candy and McNuggets. Note to self, 60 nuggets are not enough but 4 gymnastics coaches are the perfect number.
The Happy Birthday song was sung and it was all good. My daughter's hair did not catch on fire and there were no tears.
She loved the rhinestoned leotard so much, she stayed in it the entire time, not changing into the party dress I brought.
As the party wound down, I had one box of pizza left, half a cake and some dregs of my Mediterranean spread. No one looked hungry except for the anorexic looking mom who likes to shop in the tween departments, but she always looks hungry.
My only regret was the parting gifts. I gave out Beanie Babies with plastic medals around their necks. (I had stayed up nights before, preparing them) I had enough for all the invited kids but not the uninvited siblings. I was made to feel responsible for their unhappiness when told they could not have an animal. Really unfair. But live and learn.
I'm already working on #6.